Having given you the first part of this series for 2019, now it’s time to look at the other side of the coin. You can check out the losers of 2019 here. But without any further delay, here at the Winners of 2019, according to this site:
- 5. Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Independent MP: Did any one person shake up and shape the Canadian political landscape this year more than Jody Wilson-Raybould? Looking at where things stand now, and the final out come of the SNC-Lavalin case that showed that she was right all along, I would argue that no one else comes close. Probably the best signal of that was the fact that we’ve seen these stories about her office space come out in the past week, obviously leaked in a continued attempt to smear this Indigenous leader. JWR has become a trigger word to many big L Liberals, just like Justin Trudeau has for many conservatives, and that says a lot about her impact this year. The question going ahead now is “what’s next?” for her. Will she make a run at the Green Party leadership (I don’t think she will)? Will being the lone Independent MP in the House of Commons be the experience that she hopes it will (time will tell)? Regardless of what comes ahead in 2020, Jody showed why taking a principled stand matters and that integrity matters a lot to the voters out there.
- 4. Bloc Quebecois: 2019 brought us a bunch of changes and the return of the BQ is one that promises to create some interesting situations in this minority Parliament going forward. But the fact that the BQ won more than 30 seats in this last election comes back to one thing and one thing alone: timing. The Bloc didn’t have the money, or the organization and their incumbent MPs were simply not that well known, despite having been in Ottawa for four years. The thing they were best known for was their internal fighting, splitting apart and all that turmoil. But the election of the CAQ in Quebec, along with the introduction of one piece of legislation, gave the BQ the route to victory and the coattails to ride to get them there. And let’s be clear, the rise of the Bloc has nothing to do with a rise in sovereignty in Quebec (of which there is no rise) and everything to do with the rise of nationalism that the CAQ has tapped into, specifically Bill 21. That bill became the Bloc’s platform and their raison d’être in that campaign. They took a position of full, unconditional support for that bill, something none of other federal parties could do, especially to the effect that the BQ did. Most people can’t point to much in the BQ platform that would drive voters beyond basically promising to be François Legault’s best friend. And amazingly since the election, Legault has been doing his best to distance himself from them, even turning down an invitation to speak to their caucus. So for the BQ their big win in 2019 was getting those seats, but that leaves a big question going forward of what they will actually stand for. At some point, trying to ride the coat tails of another leader can only take you so far, and it remains to be seen where BQ leader Yves-François Blanchet plans to take this party in the long run. 2020 will go a long way to figuring that out.
- 3. Jagmeet Singh and the NDP: You know it’s been a year of ups and downs when you find yourself ranked in both the Winners and Losers of any given year, but really that’s where the NDP finds itself. In my opinion, the NDP falls among the winners for a couple big reasons. Firstly, the campaign that Jagmeet Singh and his team ran was about as good as anyone can expect to run, start to finish. For the NDP to get out of the hole it found itself in at the start, they needed to run that kind of campaign and take advantage of the situations presented to them during the campaign. They succeeded on both counts, with Jagmeet Singh finding his stride during the campaign and responding spot on to what came up. Also in a campaign that felt heavy and depressing at many points, Singh was the only candidate who seemed to actually be enjoying being on the campaign trail. That was something that resonated with a lot of people and kept looking better as the campaign went along. The other big reason why the NDP came out of 2019 as winners comes back to Singh and his team itself. Going into the campaign, Singh was among the most unpopular leaders in the country and was constantly polling below the low numbers the NDP was scoring, especially in Quebec. By the end of the campaign and continuing to the end of this year, Singh became the most popular leader in the country, including in Quebec where he’s the most popular federal politician right now. Singh went from being a liability to party polling to become an asset, growing coat tails of his own during the campaign that could become big in the future. And when it comes to the team, this year and campaign answered one of the biggest outstanding issues for the party going forward; what would the next generation of elected New Democrats look like? When many party veterans like David Christopherson, Linda Duncan, Fin Donnelly, Irene Mathyssen, Hélène Laverdière, Romeo Saganash, Murray Rankin and Nathan Cullen decided not to run again, that left many wondering not only if the NDP could hold those seats, but who were the next stars for the NDP to come. The NDP held onto a lot of those seats and even picked up some others, bringing on new faces that have big promise. You look to new MPs like Laurel Collins, Heather McPherson, Matthew Green, Lindsay Mathyssen, Leah Gazan and Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and you can see the promise and potential that the class of 2019 has. There is an unmistakable new energy in this NDP caucus in 2019, which bodes well for the future of the Orange team going into 2020.
- 2. British Columbia Premier John Horgan: It’s been an interesting period for the BC NDP and Premier John Horgan. Being in a minority government, supported by the Greens, there were many people in the media and likewise predicting impending doom for Horgan. How could this possibly work? How long before the next election? Most people didn’t give this government long at all. But instead of listening to the naysayers, Horgan and team got to work and have managed to accomplish a lot despite strong headwinds. BC’s economy is one of the strongest in the country, running surpluses as a government in a time when everyone seems to be running big deficits, maintaining a strong “AAA” credit rating while Conservative governments are seeing theirs cut and they’ve had big legislative achievements like passing legislation to make UNDRIP the law of the land in the province. While the situation hasn’t been perfect, as BC has faced issues in the forestry sector, Horgan has seen his popularity increase to the point where he is one of the most popular Premiers in the country. Heck, even outgoing BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver said that it would feel weird running against the NDP now because he considers so many of them to be friends. Horgan and team has managed to make the best of this minority situation, to the point where they could potentially win a majority the next time out. In this time when conservative parties have been on the rise across the country and progressive ones have been limping, Horgan’s BC NDP has bucked the trend. That makes him a winner in 2019 for sure, and we’ll see if it makes him an even bigger winner down the road.
- 1. Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada: In a government that’s been all about the big name at the top of the party, there hasn’t been enough emphasis put on the team in the Liberal cabinet. That was something that came back to bite them in the rear in this last election when the Trudeau brand fell and was no longer the bonus that it was before. But through out the life of this government, there has only been a handful of ministers who have been unanimously viewed across the spectrum as strong performers worthy of that prime time. Chrystia Freeland has been the biggest of those, being given some of the hardest files that this government has had to deal with (like NAFTA) while having to deal with the countries most important relationship at probably at the hardest time in generations, dealing with the Trump administration. In response to those challenges, Freeland simply got down to work and delivered as best as anyone could in those circumstances. You can argue with some of the decisions she’s made for her government (and many will), but most observers agree that she’s been as professional and high performing as you could hope from a senior government minister. And now that we are post-election and the Liberals are putting a greater focus on the team, Freeland has been further even further into the forefront, being named the first Deputy Prime Minister in a generation. While some have criticized this decision, basically saying that she is being given all the PM’s work without the pay, I believe this appoint makes her the biggest winner of the year in Canadian politics. It not only gives her the chance to have a direct hand in a lot of big government policy, it allows her to be a bigger part of the face of this government. Along with that comes the higher profile and the potential for maybe becoming the next leader of the Liberal Party whenever Justin Trudeau decides to go. Going into 2019, his departure was seen as so far off that it wasn’t really worth considering. But at the end of this year, Trudeau is no longer seen as invincible and it’s easier to see a day and time in the future when he may decide to take his own walk in the snow. By getting this role and the opportunities that come with it, if she keeps performing the way she has for four years she could be in the pole position to be the first woman to leader the Liberal Party of Canada.